May 18, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees designated hitterTravis Hafner
(33) rounds the bases past Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcherDarren Oliver
(38) after hitting a two-run home run during the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium. Yankees win 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Blue Jays bullpen is over populated. It has been for most of the season much to the chagrin of anyone of semi-intelligence that is also a Blue Jays fan. This already overpopulated (9 relievers for last night’s game!?!?!) bullpen is about to get even more populous with the imminent return of Sergio Santos, and the possible return to a relief role for Esmil Rogers (Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ will be back soon).
While at first glance it would seem that the more junior (in terms of service time) members of the ‘pen in Neil Wagner and Juan Perez will be the ones to be sent packing, their effectiveness has made this a less amiable solution.
To assess the situation, let’s take a look at the current members of the Blue Jays bullpen
Casey Janssen – R
Brett Cecil – L
Steve Delabar – R
Neil Wagner – R
Aaron Loup – L
Juan Perez – L
Darren Oliver – L
Dustin McGowan – R
Todd Redmond – R *
* Came out of the bullpen last night but may in fact start on Sunday
Common wisdom in the MLB has a relief corps with 7 pitchers, 4 right-handers, and 3 left-handers. It’s clear that Todd Redmond‘s time with the Blue Jays will probably be of the Casper Wells variety, and I don’t see how much longer the Blue Jays can continue the farce of pretending Dustin McGowan belongs on this roster. So that takes care of the righties.
As for lefties, the Blue Jays are currently employing 4 in Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Darren Oliver, and Juan Perez. Due to extended periods of effectiveness Cecil and Loup have all but solidified their roles as the first two lefties out of the bullpen. So when bodies start coming back and the Blue Jays can no longer afford the bullpen of a bullpen with the population density of Hong Kong it will come down to Perez and Oliver to stake a claim to the last spot.
Name recognition and past performance would make it seem obvious that Juan Perez will be the odd man out, but with his continued effectiveness would that be the right move?
Truthfully the third lefty out of a bullpen is not the most vital piece of a baseball team, so if the Blue Jays are going to have to get rid of one of these two pitchers, would it not make sense to move the one that they may actually be able to get an asset for in return?
If it comes down to it, I think Alex Anthopolous is going to see the number of teams looking for relief help *cough*Detroit*cough* and decide to try to extract value from an area of his team where he has a surplus, without negatively affecting the on field performance of his team.
This being said however, things can change. The injury bug has not been kind to Blue Jays pitchers in recent memory so maybe this will sort itself out, but with Sergio Santos, Brandon Morrow, and J.A. Happ (not to mention Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchinson, and Luis Perez) all returning from injury, it seems that a logjam is inevitable, and to think AA is going to sit back and not capitalize on this opportunity to cash in redundant assets is folly.